With his researches and discoveries, visiting scholar at the Emory University School of Law Wendell Bird has deepened and expanded the historical scholarship about the legal history of the 1790s Alien and Sedition Acts. In the process he also seeks to stain, or at minimum bruise, the Federalists for the passage of these acts, and Bird does so in a manner that, at times, makes it unclear if he is analyzing the Federalists of the 1790s (persons such as George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, and Timothy Pickering) or the Donald Trump administration for governmental overreach and unconstitutional suppression of speech and press liberties. Reading at times more like a reference work on those prosecuted and oppressed by the Adams administration, Bird's indictment of that generation of public policy makers may put off some readers, but future historians will mine his impressive research achievements for a more balanced and judicious...
Criminal Dissent: Prosecutions Under the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798
Thomas C. Mackey is professor of history at the University of Louisville and the author of Opposing Lincoln: Clement L. Vallandigham, Presidential Power, and the Limits of Dissent in Wartime(2020).
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Thomas C. Mackey; Criminal Dissent: Prosecutions Under the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798. The New England Quarterly 2021; 94 (3): 477–478. doi: https://doi.org/10.1162/tneq_r_00908
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